Hitting 20,000 words!

I’ve been progressing on my Nanowrimo novel rather nicely. Yesterday, right on target, I hit the 20,000 word mark, which has me pleased indeed! My novel isn’t the best written thing in the world, but it works well enough for me. I can’t believe I’ll actually be finishing this thing this year!

I also received my T-shirt in the mail a few days ago, and wore it proudly yesterday. More proof that I am, in fact, a huge dork.

Novel progress

I realize that I haven’t really even said anything about my Nanowrimo novel in here… until now. I started my novel during the afternoon of November 1st and only wrote about 1300 words on that first day. Unfortunately, Scott and I spent the 2nd on the road for 16 hours, so I didn’t get any writing done at all. I wrote another 1500 words on the 3rd, and I began to think I wouldn’t be able to get it done in time.

However, I bit the bullet and forced myself to write yesterday, and I wrote a grand total of 5000 words all during the day! That brings my current total to 8000 words, and I’m writing for today right now as well. I’m surprised that I’ve been coming up with ideas left and right, and there hasn’t been many times where I’ve just been sitting there thinking of ideas. I have a certain spreadsheet that I’ve been using to track my novel progress, and I’m also using this online counter to give people who visit this site an idea of how many words I’ve written so far. (This counter is located on the lower right-hand side of this page in the sidebar, under etc.) I’m hoping these things will keep me motivated in completing my novel.

I’m so excited that I’ve gotten so much done already. I hope I can complete the 50,000 words by November 30!

EDIT: I went and bought myself a Nanowrimo T-shirt, in black. I am a nerd.

The Strokes concert!

First of all, I’m back in Indiana after a pretty long and almost painful 16 hour drive home yesterday. But, that’s another story.

I had a GREAT time at the Strokes/Kings of Leon show this past Friday night. I’m still amazed that I liked the show so much, after hearing from a few people that the Strokes weren’t great in concert.

I picked up Scott at Logan Airport in Boston on Friday afternoon, and surprisingly I wasn’t bombarded with traffic on the way. Scott’s flight came in early and we left earlier than planned, which was more than likely a good thing because of all the traffic we hit driving to the show!

I hadn’t ever been to the venue before - the Tsongas Arena. We ended up parking at a parking garage a little ways away from the venue, getting a better deal than the majority of the people who parked at the arena parking. And our place wasn’t crowded at all, which made me very happy! Because the arena also houses hockey games, the floor of the place was covered with this odd crumbly grey matter that flaked off on our clothes when we sat on the floor before the concert, which was sort of odd. Poor Scott’s legs fell asleep as we sat waiting for the show to begin, and when he tried standing up he almost fell right over!

Finally, the show started at close to 8 with Kings of Leon going on first. They sang most of the songs off of their first album, which Scott owns. I had heard most of the songs before, thanks to Scott playing the album all the time, and I would love to see them again in concert as the headline. They played for about a half hour before the lights came on again.

We had to wait nearly an HOUR for the Strokes to come on, but the entire place screamed when they came on stage. They opened the set with ‘Whatever Happened?’ the first song on their new album, and I had fun jumping around with the crowd and singing all the words to their songs. They played a bunch of songs from their new album, including ‘12:51′, ‘Under Control’, and, my favorite one, ‘Reptilia’, and they all rocked so much harder than they did on the new album. Of course, they played some songs from Is This It, such as ‘Someday’, ‘Hard To Explain’, and ‘Soma’, and they closed with ‘Take it or Leave It’. I spent most of the show near the front, being pushed around with the people around me, and then I moved toward the back to cool off a bit.

It was great. It was a lot better than I thought it was going to be, and that made me happy. The set was pretty short (only an hour), but it was an hour well spent. I liked how they didn’t do encores, because I never saw the purpose in leaving and then coming back onstage like that. Encores have become so commonplace that it was refreshing to see a group that didn’t do them.

Ah. I’d love to see them again sometime, this time with a different crowd. The one at the show we saw consisted mainly of 15 year olds, and Scott and I felt like the oldest ones there! But still.

Yeah. It rocked.

NaNoWriMo - second try!

For the second year in a row, I am participating in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. Basically, I will be attempting to write a 50,000 word novel in just a month, starting on November first. I tried doing this last year, but I never really got into it. I have a specific plot idea this year, however, and I hope that I’ll be able to finish this year!

Bloomington’s notorious for its massive NaNoWriMo participant population. I’m getting together with a bunch of local NaNoWriMo people tonight for food, and I’m hoping that it will be fun! I’m looking forward to meeting countless amounts of other people who will be spending their Novembers hunched over their computer/paper notebook/etc scribbling a novel. Fun times, I say.

Designing With Web Standards

While at Borders the other day with Scott, I came across a book called Designing With Web Standards by Jeffrey Zeldman, and after a little deliberation, I purchased it. I love this book so far! I’m pretty interested in making my site standards compliant, and I’ve learned a few new things to try when I make my next layout. Right now, my site nearly validates as XHTML 1.0 Transitional, but there’s a few little aggrivating mistakes in some of the PHP code I have on my site that I’m too lazy to sift through (hey, it’s summer, and I finally have a break!). I can be a pretty neat and orderly person, and applying these sorts of rules and settings to standardize my page is pretty fun for me. Then again, I’m weird.

When I checked out his website, I found something else that’s pretty interesting: he’s an IU alumnus, and he’s the opening keynote speaker for WebdevShare 2003, a program on web development and standards that’s going to be held right here at IU! Obviously, I’m not going to go to it because it’s expensive and I won’t be in the area anyway, but I thought that was pretty neat. I’d love to go to one of these conferences one day, but that won’t happen until I have something called money. As a college student, unfortunately, I don’t have any of that.

Still, I thought it was a good buy. I’m excited and motivated to design once more.

On RSS

These days, when I’m surfing the net and checking out new websites, I read all about RSS and how RSS feeds should be implemented. What’s RSS? Yeah, I could give out one of those long-winded explanations on what it is, but in all truth, I’m not really sure myself. I only know that if a person has a weblog that’s run by any of the major weblogging software systems (Movable Type, b2, etc.), then that person also has had an automatic RSS feed of their weblog, with the template generated when the weblog is installed or created. Other than that, that’s all I know.

Why is this useful? Well, if a person reads enough weblogs and is too lazy to go and check each and every one every day (yeah, it all comes down to laziness, pretty much), then that person can just download or purchase a piece of software called a news aggregator and add the specific weblogs’ RSS feeds to it. Viola, now all the person needs to do to check out all their favorite weblogs is to click the ‘update’ button on their aggregator and all the updated RSS feeds appear.

I’m not a huge fan of this, however. With RSS feeds, none of the layout aspects of the webpage displays, just the text itself. Sure, content is the most important part of the weblog, but it would be rediculous to think that presentation doesn’t matter at all. I feel strange reading weblog posts on a white background, with black text, nearly indistinguishable from each other unless I read the title to see who’s weblog I’m reading. Thankfully, most of the time only excerpts from the actual entry are posted in the news aggregator, with a link to the actual website to read the rest of the post below the excerpt. However, some people like to actually put the entire entry in their RSS feeds instead of only the excerpt, so people reading the site via RSS feeds can read the entire entry right then and there. This is where I see most of the controversy I read online about RSS, the ‘excerpt or no excerpt’ argument.

Some people, like myself, like the excerpt system. I like giving the 3 people who read my site via RSS feeds the option to read the entire entry or not. If the entry doesn’t sound interesting, then they can just skip on by! Also, I like getting hits to my site. (Who doesn’t?) If someone just reads the entire entry via RSS feeds, then will they go to my site? Probably not, unless they feel incredibly compelled to comment on something I’ve said.

On the other hand, some people prefer to read entire entries in their newsreaders, forgoing the excerpt idea altogether. People would much rather read the entire entry right there instead of clicking on the link to the rest of the entry; after all, why choose to read the RSS feed instead of going to the actual site if that’s the option? (Sarcasm.)

Actually, I don’t care how people read sites. Unfortunately, only the weblog author him (or her)self has the choice on how they want their RSS feeds displayed. I could set mine so that there isn’t an excerpt, but everyone would have to deal with how I’ve changed it. I don’t like how some HTML tags aren’t displayed in my newsreader (which could be because of the one I’m using, because I’m a broke college student and I don’t have the money to spend on software when I can just use a freeware one for far cheaper), and I don’t like people not going to my site to, well, read my site. I’m happy with how my RSS feeds are displayed now, and I’m even happier when people click on my link to read my site.

That’s my take on RSS. It’s not a big deal to me, and I use feeds to read sites on occasion, but I’d much rather take the time to go to the individual websites to both read the content and take in the layout that is displayed. To me, both things make a weblog interesting and engaging.

ZWAN. Need I say more?

I saw Zwan tonight.

We left Bloomington at around 1, and arrived in Columbus, Ohio at around 5. After driving around Columbus for a little bit, we found a parking spot at the side of the road, and walked to the venue to stand in line for two hours. We talked to a few people in line next to us, and we enjoyed a little ‘The Royal Philharmonic plays the Music of Radiohead’ from a nearby car. When the sun set, we became really cold, and I was happy when they finally let us in the club.

The opening act, Blue Karma, kicked a fair amount of ass, but I really couldn’t wait to see Zwan. I couldn’t wait to see Billy right in front of me, and when they came on stage, I just stared. I absorbed every song, watched Billy, Jimmy, and the other members’ faces and expressions throughout the show. I don’t know many of their songs yet, but I just stood in awe as they played them. I pushed myself up to the third row, covered in sweat and pushed up against the people around me who loved Zwan as much as I did. I love shows, and I love the mixture of sweat, beer, and cigarette smoke that comes with a general admission ticket. After two encores, nearly two hours after their set started, Zwan stepped off the stage, and Scott and I set off to find the car.

We found our way out of Columbus eventually, and we stopped at a Steak and Shake at the Indiana border at 2am. To stay awake, we stopped at a gas station and I bought Chewy Sprees. Yeah, I became tired. I finally arrived back in my dorm at a little after 4, and here I am now, shocked and amazed that I saw Zwan tonight.

I’m psyched about the album. January 28 is marked on my calendar.

NaNoWriMo 2002

Yes, I’ve finally joined NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to basically write a novel in a month. I think I’m insane, as I reeeally don’t think I’ll be able to write a novel in a month! But it’s a challenge, and I’m up for it. Wish me luck!

Radiohead

I went and saw Radiohead yesterday. We didn’t get to stand anywhere near the stage, so I didn’t feel the full “I’m at a concert surrounded by people getting all sweaty and gross because of jumping around and everyone around me loves this band as much if not more than I do” feeling I usually get at concerts. I like being really near the front of the stage, to see the band, to both hear and feel the sounds and sights run through me, becoming part of it. But I’m not complaining.

I felt a little bit of it, even standing waaay in the back. the songs they played were so beautiful and raw and permeated my mind, even when I wasn’t at the center of the crowd and the front of the stage.

They played most of the songs from Amnesiac and Kid A, and a lot more from The Bends and OK Computer than I had expected. None from Pablo Honey though, which I had expected. They opened the show with “The National Anthem” and closed with a more drum heavy “Everything In Its Right Place” (both of which were awesome). Some of my favorite songs they played were “Lucky” (it’s gonna beeee….a GLOOOOOOOORIOUS day), “Paranoid Android” (which is reeeeally cool live!), “Idioteque” (hearing Thom scream the lyrics to that live just blew me away), “You and Whose Army?” (which me and Chrissy LOVE), “Pyramid Song” (yet another one of my favorites), and “No Surprises” (which reminds me of Nate, and I had wished he had been there with me). But hell, all of the songs were good!

They came out for two encores. During the first one, the played a cool piano version of “Spinning Plates”, which was so much better and prettier than the one on Amnesiac. They played other songs for the first encore, but I don’t remember what they were. (When I find a playlist I will put it in.)

For the second encore, they came out and played “Karma Police” which surprised me. Then they ended the show with “The Tourist” which isn’t my most favorite song in the world but it ended the show nicely.

Now, getting to the show and back was a good time in itself and is highly worth talking about.

I left work at 2:30 to get ready for the show, and waited for my friend Will (who I used to work with but hadn’t seen in person for a good year and a half) to get to my house. We took off and picked up Corinna, and we were on our way to our friend Chrissy’s house in Framingham. I drove (and we didn’t die!) and then we got into Chrissy’s car to drive the 30 minute drive to the concert.

Before we were on our way, we stopped at a Papa Gino’s for something to eat. Chrissy and Will both made the mistake of drinking too much soda, and two hours later they regretted it. On our way to Boston we got stuck in the 5 o’clock rush hour traffic, with no end in sight. Both Will and Chrissy had to use the bathroom pretty badly, but we had no idea what to do.

We spotted a few guys getting out of their car at a particularly populated part of the jam. One of them stood in the divider, partially (but not well) hidden from people,and peed right there. We all looked in disbelief, and said to each other,

“He did not just pee right there!”

About five minutes later, we passed a Port-A-Potty amidst some construction, and Will decided to make a run for it. Chrissy, Corinna, and I laughed as Will jumped over the dividers to find a place to pee. When he came back, soaked in water from jumping over puddles (NOT peeing his pants!), the people in the car behind us were cheering him on. It was great.

The rest of the drive was spent singing along to Radiohead and Beatles songs, giving directions to people (who seemed to think we knew what we were doing!), and honking at the ‘honk if you like cookies’ van.

We arrived at the venue at 7:45, a full hour and fifteen minutes after the show started. Will didn’t have a ticket, so we were hoping that there would still be people selling tickets at a fairly low price so Will could get in. And lo and behold, the first person that approached Chrissy’s car was selling a ticket for only 40 bucks! So he got in as well., We arrived just as Radiohead started their set.

The way home wasn’t as exciting but it was just as fun. Getting out of the venue took ages, and then we got lost until we hit Harvard square. Then Will and I started talking computers and confused Chrissy and Corinna.

When we got back to Chrissy’s at around 11:30, we were fairly tired. Corinna drove the rest of the way home, back to her apartment, and we had a good talk. Then she said goodbye when we reached her place, and hugged. I didn’t really know how to get back onto 202 from her apartment, so I tried the best I could and ended up going the wrong way down a one way street. But 202 was right around the corner so I got home fine, as did Will.

And that’s the Radiohead Concert story.

The very beginning

Me, with a blog? Yes. For updates and things, when I don't feel like opening my mailing list. It's going to be fun, trust me.